On the backs of...
I'll be offering a few reflections over the next week or so in light of the painfully prophetic preaching of Marvin Williams. He has challenged us greatly the last 2 weeks at White Hill...I mean...Mars Hill. Marvin is one of the lead pastors at Tabernacle Communiy Church in the Alger Heights area of Grand Rapids. It is one of the few churches in Grand Rapids that is achieving any real racial diversity. It's a church Christine and I will be visiting very soon.
I won't rehash everything that Marvin said. You are much better off listening to it yourself (www.mhbcmi.org).
How many of you get into doing the whole "family tree" thing? You know who you are. You've got a favorites folder called "jeanie-ology" and you've planned stops into local libraries when you are back home visiting relatives. You are a regular private eye and are able to trace your ancestral heritage back to Methusela. If you are this person...or any derivation of this kind of person...then beware. Your historical searches may uncover something that you don't want to find. And if your conscience gets a hold of that information, you're toast.
At the end of Marvin's first sermon on 8/6 he hit us with a couple of challenges. Marvin suggested we do something I had never dreamed of doing. He suggested that for some of us we need to do some truth-seeking in our own histories. We need to meander through the lives of our ancestors and do some detective work. In many ways, we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. The question is...Were they standing on the backs of the poor, downcast, underprivileged, or marginalized?
Do you have the kind of opportunity and financial security today because of a father who was a real estate guru who participated in an economic system that kept the poor down?
Do you have the status and education today because of a great-great-great grandfather who was a slave trader...or who got wealthy off of the free labor that slaves were forced to give?
Perhaps someone in your family was a banker or a store owner during the Dust Bowl Years and charged unusually high rates of interest on the very populations who could not afford them. Has their wealth been passed down to you in any way?
WARNING: If you think that doing such a history will tie you to the perpetuation of oppression and marginalization, then DO NOT READ LUKE 19. In Luke 19 you will meet Zacchaeus, who was a tax collector that got rich "on the backs" of the locals who could not afford the usury being ascribed to them. He not only participates in an ecomomic system that keeps people down, he rapes them over and beyond what they owe to Caesar. But Zacchaeus has an encouter with ONE who does not stand for injustice or the oppression of the poor. And on the day that salvation comes to this tax collector, he gives half of his possessions to the poor and pays back 4 x's the amount to anyone he has cheated.
Salvation has come to Zacchaeus...Restitiution has come to the oppressed...Redemption has come to the world.
How has your history brought you to where you are today?
Where will investigating your history take you tomorrow?
Come salvation...come restitution...come redemption...come!